PHOTO: Sunrise Boat Trip Down the Ganges River in Varanasi, India

Dawn boat trip down the Ganges River in Varanasi, India

A sunrise boat trip down the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, is the very best way to experience some of the 90-plus ghats (stairways) that descend to its banks. Assi Ghat, the southernmost of the ghats, is a popular place to hire one of the small wooden boats that make the journey each morning. From here, boatmen row downstream to Manikarnika Ghat, the main cremation ghat. As the dull grey of pre-dawn begins to lift, boatmen turn around and head back past ancient Mughal palaces and brightly painted steps leading down to the water’s edge. Wherever the largest crowds have gathered, they lift their oars and let the boat float silently, slowly by, allowing passengers to witness the joy of worshipers bathing in the holy waters. The trip costs between 150 and 400 Rupees, depending upon length and negotiating skills.

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